Rory McIlroy put himself among golf’s greatest legends by winning his fourth major title and second in the span of a month on Sunday. His hat-trick of victories - a World Golf Championship title sandwiched in between the British Open and PGA Championship - is the longest winning streak since Tiger Woods completed a run of five in a row back in 2008.
McIlroy became the fourth-youngest man to win his fourth major - trailing only Young Tom Morris, Woods and Jack Nicklaus - and has taken four of the past 15 majors played. But he was quick to downplay all the talk of a new era in professional golf.
“I try and put all this talk aside every time it comes up, but Tiger and Jack are two of the most successful players in our sport of all time,” McIlroy said. “I’m on a nice track at the minute and I’m on a nice path. I’ve still got a long way to go, but to be in their company at this age is very special.”
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Tiger won his first major as a pro, the 1997 Masters, at age 21, destroying the rest of the field by a record 12 shots. Jack won his second major as a pro, the 1962 U.S. Open, at age 22, beating Arnold Palmer in a playoff. Rory McIlroy won his first major in 2011 at the U.S. Open, finishing eight strokes ahead of Jason Day and setting 11 tournament records in the process. The win came two months after McIlroy blew a four stroke lead, shooting 80 in the final round to lose the Masters.
LET'S GO STREAKING
Tiger won six of his first 25 majors; Jack won five of his first 25. Rory won four of his first 25.Tiger won four majors in a row from the 2000 U.S. Open through the 2001 Masters, a “Tiger Slam” instead of a Grand Slam only because all four wins did not come in the same calendar year. The most consecutive majors Nicklaus ever won was two but he came within a Lee Trevino chip-in of holding all four major titles at the same time in 1972. Nicklaus had won the 1971 PGA Championship, played in February as a concession to the South Florida heat, then added the 1972 Masters and U.S. Open titles. He had the claret jug in his sights at Muirfield, but he finished second by one shot to Trevino, who chipped in on the 71st hole. McIlroy has said his next objective is to win the career Grand Slam by slipping on the green jacket that got away at next year's Masters. He would become just the seventh player in golf history to win the Grand Slam, joining Bobby Jones, Nicklaus, Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazan.
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
When Tiger was 24 he completed the career Grand Slam at the 2000 Open Championship, two years ahead of the age that Jack was when he completed the feat in 1966, also at the Open Championship. (And, to be fair, Tiger added his fifth just a month later, at the PGA.) Nicklaus was 25 in 1965 when a victory at the Masters gave him his fourth career major. McIlroy added the fourth major to his resume at the age of 25. Tom Watson was 30 by the time he won the fourth of his eight career majors. Gary Player was 29, Arnold Palmer had turned 30 and Lee Trevino was 32. And Nick Faldo, the fellow Brit whom McIlroy hopes to supplant as the greatest modern-day European player, had hit the ripe old age of 33 by the time he claimed the fourth of his six majors.
BREAKING UP NOT HARD TO DO
McIlroy's much documented split from finacée Caroline Wozniacki just days after the couple sent out wedding invitations appears to have had a positive effect on the young Irishman. Since the high-powered sports couple first confirmed their engagement on January 1, 2014, McIlroy posted seven top-10 results on both the European and PGA Tour's. He did have three runner-up finishes including blowing a two shot lead at the Honda Classic in a playoff. Following the announcement that"Wozilroy" - the Hollywood name bestowed upon the couple by the media - had ended their relationship, McIlroy has chalked up four wins including three in a row and two major titles. Things haven't been as good for Wozniacki but she has seen an improvement in her play of late. Prior to the split, she failed to win any tournaments and was usually a first or second round casualty more often than not. Since the split, she has one win, a semi-final and quarter-final result.